THE CASTLE OF OTRANTO BY HORACE WALPOLE

Horace Walpole wrote this monumental book in 1764. The international community is calling The Castle of Otranto the first gothic novel to ever be published. Later on, in the 18th-19th centuries, this newly-founded genre became hugely popular and was admired by Edgar Poe, Bram Stoker, and others.

Walpole, the author, was mesmerized by medieval history, and his love for it transformed into this epic novel. This is the story of Manfred, the lord of a gorgeous castle, and his "lovely" family. The narrative starts on the wedding day of the man's sickly son and a princess. Unfortunately, a few days after the ceremony, Conrad, the son, passes away: a huge helmet comes crashing down from above and kills the poor fella.

This terrifying event is extremely sinister and ominous, as there's an ancient prophecy that claims the heir to the castle will die and the family's legacy will be cut. Obviously, Manfred is horrified by his son's death and the fact that the prophecy is coming to life. Furthermore, Conrad's death essentially means the end of his bloodline, and he simply can't let that happen.

So, he puts a whimsical plan in motion: he divorces his wife and makes Isabella, his late son's widow, his new spouse. He's not at all confused by his own actions and doesn't feel like he's betraying Hippolita, his wife. On the contrary: he blames her for Conrad's death. However, the girl isn't too happy to marry an older fella and runs away...The Castle of Otranto is the very first supernatural book written in English and quite an influential novel for the genre. It mixes realist fiction with the supernatural, thus delivering a new experience for the readers.

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